The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 2:16 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Yadkin College Part I

By Linda H. Barnette

Virginia Fisk wrote a book about Yadkin College in 1984 because her grandfather attended school there around 1900.  Only 1000 copies of her book Country College on the Yadkin were published.  I was lucky to receive a copy as a gift from my son in 2014.

I had always known about it just from conversations in my dad’s family, and I remember going with my parents to see the old building in the little village of Yadkin College right across the river off Highway 64.

However, it was only later when I became interested in genealogy that I realized there were family connections. Then just a few years ago, as fate would have it, I met Jack and Frances Brooks at First Presbyterian Church. They lived in Yadkin College, and Jack’s mother was a Hartley, so we were related. We visited them several times, and Frances drove us to various spots around the area, such as cemeteries, churches, and the old Yadkin College building.

The history of the college began early when people in this remote area desired an education for their children. After all, the University of North Carolina was chartered in 1789, and other colleges were formed by various religious groups, such as Davidson College by the Presbyterians, Trinity (later Duke) by the Methodists, and Catawba by the German Reformed Church.

Therefore, at the end of the annual meeting of the Methodist Protestants, there was talk of establishing a seminary in Davidson County. One of the delegates and a resident of the village, Henry Walser, bought 10 acres of land along the Yadkin River nine miles west of Lexington. He also owned a kiln to make bricks for the buildings. Others also helped, including David Michael, Thomas Crump, and many more.  When I read the names, many of them were familiar Davidson County names.

The village of Yadkin College was a perfect place for a school.  The village had a population then of 150 people, and there were four stores and a post office, the Hartley mill, and the Dale and Jordan tobacco factory. The catalogue stated that there would be “no diversions from study” there and no “temptation to extravagance,” and that no strong drink could be purchased within several miles of the area.

In 1856 the main building was finished. It was a two-story structure 80×35 feet with classrooms on the first floor and an auditorium on the second floor. There were no dormitories. Male students either rented rooms from local residents or camped in tents around the camp meeting arbor. The school opened in 1861 with 80 boarding students but was soon interrupted and closed during the Civil War.

To be continued …

The Kitchen-Den Combo

By Stephanie Williams Dean

My home was built in the 70s with what was considered popular at the time – the kitchen-den combination. However, I turned the den area into a breakfast room – it has a real wood-burning fireplace.

So, among other reasons, it’s no surprise that the kitchen is my favorite room in the house. The outdated kitchen-den combo works well as a place to enjoy our meals.

On many cool days, it’s not that my soul is warmed just by my stove but also by a little fire that burns while I’m cooking. I’m literally immersed in the kind of comfort that only a fire plus made-from-scratch cooking can provide. You won’t find or feel that kind of satisfaction and fulfillment in any restaurant, anywhere – no matter how good the food tastes.

It’s how we feel while doing what we do – that’s so important.


By:  E. Bishop

October has arrived! Hopefully, the cooler temperatures will also. Leaves will be turning, and it will be a great time to visit mountain scenery.  Let me suggest a place my husband and I recently visited nestled in the little town of Flat Rock, North Carolina, just a little way past Asheville.  Flat Rock has a few great restaurants (FR Wood Room), bakeries (Village Bakery), a playhouse theatre, and the main attraction of Connemara, the last home place of Carl Sandburg.

Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Ill. on Jan. 6, 1878, to August and Clara Johnson who had emigrated from Sweden. August changed the family name to Sandburg because of too many men at his railroad job already having that name. Carl grew up in a poor household, left school at 13, worked odd jobs, was a hobo for a while, served in the Spanish-American War, then went back to school although never received a diploma. This, however, did not hinder him from being a very successful reporter, writer and poet, later receiving several honorary degrees.  He loved to travel going on tour across America, playing his banjo or guitar, singing folk songs and reciting poems.

Another passion of his from an early age was learning everything he could about Abraham Lincoln.  He eventually wrote a six-volume biography on Lincoln, later condensing this while at Connemara and winning a Pulitzer (History) in 1940 for this achievement.  In all, Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes – the other two were in 1919 for Cornhuskers, a Book of Poetry and in 1951 (Poetry Prize) for Collected Poems.   Look these up for some interesting reading.

Sandburg married Lillian Steichen (whom he called Paula) in 1908; they had three daughters. In 1945, they moved from Lake Michigan to Connemara where Lillian’s prize-winning Chikaming goat herd would have a more suitable environment with plenty of pastureland and farm buildings on this 245-acre farm.  Many people had asked if Carl came to this place to retire, but “no” had to be the answer.  He actually produced about a third of his work while there.

A year after Carl Sandburg’s death (July 22, 1967) at age 89, his wife sold the property to the National Park Service (NPS).  She realized the significance of her husband’s work to the culture of America and donated all of the family’s belongings to NPS so his legacy could be preserved forever.

When you tour the home and grounds, you can understand why they chose the area; it seems somewhat remote even today.  But, with the beautiful home in remarkable condition (built in 1838) and holding some 10,000 books, and the surrounding outbuildings where you can play with some descendants of those prize-winning goats, it is well worth a trip up the mountain.

Information taken from, NPS website, and onsite tour.